Love's Redeeming Work (March 29-April 26, 2015)

Introduction

(1)    What’s happening at LABC. The next several week at LABC will be eventful. Look ahead and make your class aware of these important events in the life of our church and think about how your Sunday School lessons might relate:
March 29 – Holy Week begins: Palm Sunday and Children’s Easter Celebration
April 3 – Maundy Thursday Services with Communion at 7:00 p.m.
April 4 – Soup’s On Us
April 5 – Easter Sunday
April 12 – Glocal Missions Emphasis: Meet our ministry partners at the missions fair at the Welcome Café from 9:00-10:30 a.m. & Glocal Missions emphasis in worship
April 17-19 – Youth DiscipleNow Weekend: an important time of renewal for our youth
April 24-25 – Kentucky Baptist Fellowship Annual Gathering hosted by LABC: We hope many of our church members will participate and assist. This is a great opportunity to learn about the ministries of KBF.
April 26 – Gideons Emphasis: Bernard Montgomery will share a Gideon testimony in worship.

(2)    Testimonies: One of the suggestions that came out of our recent Young Adult Ministry Dialogue was that our members share testimonies of what God is doing in their lives. The staff is considering ways we might incorporate testimonies in worship on occasion. Sunday School is another place that members might share testimonies. I think the Bible texts and themes in this unit lend themselves to sharing testimonies. I encourage you this month to invite members to share testimonies of how they have experienced “Love’s Redeeming Work” in their lives as it relates to the lessons. You can help your church staff by sharing with us the names of class members who you think we should invite to share a testimony with the rest of the church.

(3)    This unit contains a number of biblical theological terms and concepts. These Bible dictionaries in the church library may help:
a.    Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990)
b.    Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised and Updated (Harper & Row, 2011)
c.    The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Five Volume Set (Abingdon, 1976)
d.    Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Holman Bible Publisher, 1991), p. 99, 1317.

(4)    For additional commentary, try these Bible Commentaries in the church library:
a.    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
b.    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)

(5)    Additional lessons helps and updates are available periodically on the Smyth & Helwys website: http://www.nextsunday.com/category/formations-2/


March 29 – God’s Eternal Plan (Ephesians 1:3-10)


(1)    This Sunday is Palm Sunday. Maundy Thursday services are April 3 at 7:00 p.m. in fellowship hall.

(2)    Ephesus (maps, pictures, articles):
a.    Best of the Illustrator: Journeys of Paul (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), pp. 58-65 (Pictures and article).
b.    “Ephesus,” Jesus and Paul: Places They Knew, F. F. Bruce (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), pp. 106-110.
c.    The Historical Atlas of the Bible: A Visual Guide from Ancient Time to the New Testament, Dr. Ian Barnes (New Jersey: Cartographical Press, 2006), pp. 304-305. (Map)
d.    Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Bible, John Drane, editor (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), pp. 44-45 (The Journeys of Paul), 46-47 (The Earliest Churches).
e.    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 21 (Paul’s Journeys).

(3)    Adopted as God’s children: We are the family of God. In our recent Young Adult Ministry Dialogue, the young adults with children expressed how important it was to them to have interaction with all ages. It is a strength of our church that we have so many adoptive grandparents and adult role models for our children. On any given Sunday our children can be seen visiting Doris Burton for some goodies. When I introduced baby Jeremiah on his first Sunday with us, he wasn’t with his parents. Geri Wells was holding him. Sue Smith (and many others) is always asking about how Brittany and Kelsey are doing. You could name many other examples. There are advantages to being a part of God’s adopted family, especially for those who don’t live near their biological families.

(4)    Destined or Predestined (Ephesians 1:4-5):
a.    Ralph P. Martin in “Ephesians,” The Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971) writes:
“The New Testament writers proclaim God’s electing mercy not as a conundrum to tease our mind but as a wonder to call forth our praise. They offer this teaching not as an element in God’s character to be minimized but as an assurance that our lives are in his powerful hands rather than in the grip of capricious fate, which was a fear first-century man knew well. And the doctrine is never stated as an excuse for carelessness in spiritual matters, but always as a reminder that Christians have a moral responsibility ‘to confirm [their] call and election’ (2 Peter 1:10) by following the highest ethical standards. We are chosen that we should be holy and blameless” p. 135.
a.    See “Predestination,” in Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990), p.  708, for more on the idea of predestination in the Bible.

(5)    Testimonies (“Love’s Redeeming Work”): Ask for members to share testimonies
a.    How have you experienced God’s hidden design working in your life (1:9-10)?
b.    Tell the story of how you have experienced God’s redeeming forgiveness and grace (1:7)

(6)    Orthodox Cross: The Formations Study Guide (p. 67) refers to the Orthodox Cross. If you do not have the Resource Kit, you can find an article explaining the Orthodox Cross with picture online: www.seiyaku.com/customs/crosses/eastorth.html (The link will be on our webpage: www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/).

(7)    Behold the Lamb: The Formations Study Guide (p. 67) suggests using Dottie Rambo’s, “Behold the Lamb.” A video of her singing this song is posted on our webpage (www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/).

(8)    The Cross: There are numerous references to the cross in this session. I have posted on the webpage (www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/) a slide show of photos of crosses I took at the Abbey of Gethsemani with the words to the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”


April 5 – Triumph Over Death (1 Corinthians 15:1-20)


(1)    Easter Sunday: The most important date on the Christian calendar. How will your Bible study reflect that?

(2)    Corinth (maps, pictures, articles):
a.    Best of the Illustrator: Journeys of Paul (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), pp. 50-52 (Pictures and article).
b.    “Corinth,” Jesus and Paul: Places They Knew, F. F. Bruce (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), pp. 101-105.
c.    Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) pp. 370-377.
d.    The Historical Atlas of the Bible: A Visual Guide from Ancient Time to the New Testament, Dr. Ian Barnes (New Jersey: Cartographical Press, 2006), pp. 304-305. (Map)
e.    Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Bible, John Drane, editor (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), pp. 44-45 (The Journeys of Paul), 46-47 (The Earliest Churches).
f.    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 21 (Paul’s Journeys).

(3)    Easter Themes in Music today’s scripture: “Good News,” “Christ died for our sins,” “Christ has been raised from the dead,” “We will be raised from the dead.” Look for these themes in the music of worship today: I Will Rise; Because He Lives; He Lives; Majesty, Worship His Majesty; How Majestic is Your Name; Power in the Blood; They Could Not; Hallelujah Chorus.

(4)    The Formations Teaching Guide refers to the Sadducees (p. 69). For more on the beliefs of the Sadducees, see “Sadducees,” in Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990), pp.  784-785.

(5)     The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 72) refers to “The Easter Sermon”. If you do not have the Resource Kit, you can find it attached at the end of these sessions.

(6)    Testimonies (“Love’s Redeeming Work”): See the activity in the Formations Teaching Guide (p. 72), “One-Sentence Testimonies.”

(7)    Note: Next Sunday is our Glocal Missions Emphasis and Missions Fair. Representatives of the ministry partners we support will have exhibits at the Welcome Café for a meet and greet from 9:00-10:30 a.m. Discuss what times your class might participate.


April 12 – The Fullness of God (Colossians 1:3-20)

(1)    This Sunday is our Glocal Missions emphasis with a Misisons Fair at the Welcome Café (9:00-10:30 a.m.) and an emphasis in worship.

(2)    Colossae (maps, pictures, articles:
a.    The Historical Atlas of the Bible: A Visual Guide from Ancient Time to the New Testament, Dr. Ian Barnes (New Jersey: Cartographical Press, 2006), pp. 304-305. (Map)
b.    Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Bible, John Drane, editor (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), pp. 44-45 (The Journeys of Paul), 46-47 (The Earliest Churches).
c.    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 21 (Paul’s Journeys).

(3)    How do we live out this passage in Colossians through our ministry partners? A list of the ministries and ministry partners we support, with descriptions, can be found here: /labc-glocal-ministries/ (Add Operation Christmas Child to your list. OCC is a ministry of our church funded by individuals’ gifts, not the budget). Discuss how each of them might help us fulfill the following themes in our passage from Colossians. Some may relate more closely to one or another of these themes. Name each theme below, one at a time, and ask for members to name the ministries or ministry partners that might relate:
a.    Love for all God’s people (1:4)
b.    The true message, the good news (1:5)
c.    Bearing fruit and growing in the whole world (1:6)
d.    Praying for you (1:9)
e.    Reconciled all things to God through Jesus (1:19)
f.    Brought peace (1:20)

(4)    Pray for Missions: Paul and others prayed regularly for the Colossian church (1:9-10). Using the list of ministries and ministry partners, take time to pray for them following Paul’s example (Add Operation Christmas Child to your list. OCC is a ministry of our church funded by individuals’ gifts, not the budget).

(5)    Testimonies (“Love’s Redeeming Work”): Ask for members to share testimonies. Thinking of how Paul and his companions’ prayer for the church of Colossians, share a story of a time when the prayers of others made a difference in your life?

(6)    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 76) refers to the Higgs Boson, “The God Particle” that holds everything together. A video explanation is posted on our webpage (www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/).

(7)    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 77) suggests playing a recording of “Above All,” by LeBlanc. A video recording of this song is posted on our webpage (www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/).


April 19 – The Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)


(1)    This weekend is DiscipleNow weekend for our youth. We will hear from them in worship. Pray for our youth, their parents, and our youth leaders.

(2)    Corinth (maps, pictures, articles):
a.    Best of the Illustrator: Journeys of Paul (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), pp. 50-52 (Pictures and article).
b.    “Corinth,” Jesus and Paul: Places They Knew, F. F. Bruce (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), pp. 101-105.
c.    Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) pp. 370-377.
d.    The Historical Atlas of the Bible: A Visual Guide from Ancient Time to the New Testament, Dr. Ian Barnes (New Jersey: Cartographical Press, 2006), pp. 304-305. (Map)
e.    Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Bible, John Drane, editor (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), pp. 44-45 (The Journeys of Paul), 46-47 (The Earliest Churches).
f.    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 21 (Paul’s Journeys).

(3)    The Mind of Christ for LABC: How can we, as a church, find God’s wisdom and know the mind of Christ from this passage in Corinthians? We can learn from business and government leadership models, from the world of sports, and from other organizations. But for the functioning of the church, God’s wisdom is superior to all other models. Agree? Disagree? Discuss. We are in the process, as a church, of thinking about God’s direction for the future. We are considering a capital campaign, spiritual renewal, and specific ministry emphases. In all of this, spiritual renewal will be emphasized. We hope that you will participate and encourage your class to do the same. For more information and updates talk to Tommy. How can we know the mind of Christ and find God’s wisdom in all of these endeavors? Discuss how we might know the mind of Christ in the following ways. Are there others?
a.    Prayer and listening to God together
b.    Bible study together
c.    Conversations together with the Christian community, listening to each other

(9)    Testimonies (“Love’s Redeeming Work”): Ask for members to share testimonies. How is your life since your became of follower of Christ and taken on the mind of Christ?


April 26 – The New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21)


(1)    Notice the Royal Ambassadors’ (Baptist boys mission group) verse, 2 Corinthians 5:20.

(2)    We are Ambassadors for Christ: In what ways are we as the church, Ambassadors for Christ? One of the recommendations, from our recent Renewing the Promise congregational questionnaire, was that we focus more on outreach. Contact Tommy or Keith for an update on outreach plans and ideas.

(3)    Corinth (maps, pictures, articles):
d.    Best of the Illustrator: Journeys of Paul (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), pp. 50-52 (Pictures and article).
e.    “Corinth,” Jesus and Paul: Places They Knew, F. F. Bruce (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), pp. 101-105.
f.    Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) pp. 378-381.
g.    The Historical Atlas of the Bible: A Visual Guide from Ancient Time to the New Testament, Dr. Ian Barnes (New Jersey: Cartographical Press, 2006), pp. 304-305. (Map)
h.    Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Bible, John Drane, editor (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), pp. 44-45 (The Journeys of Paul), 46-47 (The Earliest Churches).
i.    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 21 (Paul’s Journeys).

(4)    A transformed life: While Kelsey Stillwell was in Bali, she spent time at a prison where she got to know one of the prisoners who taught art classes. He has been given the death sentence for drug smuggling. His life has since been transformed. He is a model prisoner, artist, and mentor to other prisoners. At the time of this writing he has been transported to “execution island” and his execution could come at any time. This story could be a good illustration for this lesson and lead to some interesting discussion. If you are interested, I can get some more information for you and send you an article. Kelsey, and the prisoner, would appreciate it if you said a prayer for him.

(5)    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 85), “A-maze-ing Grace,” suggests an activity using mazes. The Labyrinth, though not a maze, might also be used in this illustration. You will find one and an explanation attached at the end of these sessions.

(6)    Testimonies (“Love’s Redeeming Work”): Ask your class members to share testimonies. Describe your conversion experience, how you became a Christian, how you became a new creation.

 
Teaching in General

Using Pen and Paper Exercises in Adult Bible Study

In the church office is an article by one of my Christian Education professors from seminary. I think you will find it helpful.

 
The Most Celebrated Easter Sermon

From christianitytoday.com (www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2007/apr5.html)

Every Easter Orthodox churches around the world read this sermon by John Chrysostom (349-407), the early church's famed preacher and archbishop of Constantinople at the great Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia).


Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!


 
Walking the Labyrinth
Walking the labyrinth is an ancient meditation practice that was adapted by Christians as an aid to prayer, initially used as a substitute for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Though the labyrinth may look like a maze, there is no getting lost in it as one single path winds its way to the center. The same path leads out from the center as one’s steps are retraced. When walking the labyrinth (in this case you could trace it with your finger), you may at one moment find yourself moving closer and closer to the center until you are walking immediately beside the center, then you may find that the path takes you back to the outer edges.
Walking to the center is a time for letting go of those things in our lives that would keep us from God. Wolpert (186), suggests that the disciple consider questions like these:
•    What is it like to be on this journey?
•    Is there anything I need to let go of?
•    Is there something blocking me from experiencing God’s love?
•    Am I in need of forgiveness?
•    Is there any one I need to forgive?
At the center, we rest in God’s presence for as long as we like. Here we experience God’s presence, listen, pray, worship.
As we walk our way out again, we prepare to go back into the world with God and live out the implications of our time with God, whatever that may mean. Again Wolpert (187) offers these questions for reflection:
•    In what new way might Jesus accompany you into the world?
•    What are your thoughts and feelings as you contemplate going back out into your life?
•    Do you come with any new insights, experiences, or plans?